Authoritarians create a community of the included by persecuting others… watch for the warning signs. – Ruth Ben-Ghiat
The fascist playbook isn’t new, but you have to learn to spot the warning signs. The Nazi rise power started with persecuting minorities: Jews, LGBTQ, union workers, women… Martin Niemöller, a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. His poem warns of the need to stand up for the vulnerable and fighting fascism while you still can.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Learn to recognize the warning signs on fascism
Pastor Martin Niemöller
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. In the 1920s and early 1930s, he sympathized with many Nazi ideas and supported radically right-wing political movements. But after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Niemöller became an outspoken critic of Hitler’s interference in the Protestant Church. He spent the last eight years of Nazi rule, from 1937 to 1945, in Nazi prisons and concentration camps. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for his postwar statement, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out…” – Holocaust Museum
Early warning signs of fascism
Powerful and continuing nationalism
Disdain for human rights
Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
Supremacy of the military
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Religion and government intertwined
Corporate power protected
Labor power suppressed
Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
Obsession with crime & punishment
Rampant cronyism & corruption
Fascists use ‘culture wars’ as a distraction
“Here in America, the Democratic Party — for all its confusion and errors — still respects and represents democracy and a republican form of government. The GOP, however, has been taken over in the past decades by outright authoritarians, race-baiters, homophobes, and misogynists who see one-party fascist rule as their ideal.
They use “culture wars” as both a weapon and a tool to distract people and the media from the fascists’ real goal of establishing a semi-totalitarian police state where political power is defined by big money or access to big money. They want a nation where political opponents can be arrested. Where people go to prison, shackled and on television, simply for showing up to vote.
No need to worry about what the majority of the people want
If the people object, the fascists know from the history of dozens of fascist politicians before them in other countries, enough violence in the streets by their armed militia thugs will shut them up and send them back to talking about sports and the latest movies. No need to worry about what the majority of the people want. Just throw them a nice culture war to keep them occupied, to give them specific things they can do.” – Thom Hartmann
Fascist nations take a hard view of what’s culturally acceptable and what’s not, and then seek to use violence and the force of law to impose their idea of morality on the rest of their nation’s citizens. Denying the voting franchise and parading Black people in shackles for the cameras isn’t a debate about culture: it’s using the force of law to deny people basic rights of citizenship and terrify others who may think about voting. It’s performative fascism.
Fascism almost always starts with what people think are “only culture wars.” In fact, culture wars replacing serious policy discussions are signs of early fascism. – Thom Hartmann
Describing fascism visually
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TakeAway: Learn to recognize the warning signs of fascism and the advice of those who suffered through it in Nazi Germany.
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MARTIN NIEMÖLLER – Holocaust Museum
Will the “Culture War” Fascists Win? – Thom Hartmann
Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present – Ruth Ben-Ghia
Chilling list of 14 early warning signs of fascism – Indy 100
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them – Jason Stanley
The Hidden History of American Oligarchy – Thom Hartmann
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